Story by Jodi Lai, photography by Jodi Lai and Chris Smart
Subtlety is an art form that is lost on many luxury brands and much of the world’s elite.
The term luxury is typically synonymous with gilded possessions, designer logos adorning every inch of clothing, flashy watches, and candy-coloured supercars meant to shout your net worth to the world. Luxury is usually meant to be seen.
Maybe it’s the post-COVID world we’re living in or the backlash we are seeing against billionaires, but new luxury is a quieter breed, one to be experienced discreetly. Ostentatious displays of wealth seem almost passé these days. New luxury is a mindset and an aesthetic that is more subtle than ever. New luxury is about quiet confidence, not acquiring a series of flashy trophies to brag about.
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe strangely falls into this category of subtle luxury. Like a Birkin bag – the least branded yet most coveted and highly priced purse in the world – to those who know, the Hermès is a quiet nod to having an extreme amount of wealth. To the untrained eye, however, a Birkin can be mistaken for any old handbag. Similarly, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe could pass for any other Porsche SUV, with only those in the know picking up on the little details that expose the beast it truly is.
As far as so-called SUV coupes go, the Cayenne – and this Turbo version in particular – is the most attractive example out there. Although the bar is set extremely low because the competing BMW X6 M, Audi RS Q8, and Mercedes-AMG GLE-Class Coupe are downright gaudy, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe isn’t just good-looking for the quirky kind of SUV it is, but an attractive vehicle, period. Where the others look like bulbous, jacked-up sedans with unsettling proportions, the Cayenne is the only one that gets the SUV coupe look right. With the exception of the active spoiler that looks out of place when deployed, this is a smartly styled SUV.
Built like my tester is here – in a paint colour simply called Chalk, no badging on the rear to tell passersby it’s a Cayenne or to denote its Turbo status, subtle carbon-fibre accents, matte wheels, and not a chrome accent or anything shiny to be seen – the subtlety is a bold statement on its own. Although badging comes standard, Porsches are so customizable that a customer can request not to have any, which is the way I’d do it if I were lucky enough to be in the top tier of society.
My partner, who works in video game development, describes the Chalk paint as “placeholder grey” – the shade used in his industry before final colours are added. This colour is so understated, it’s not even considered a colour! Even so, it’s a $3,590 option.
Moving inside, you’re greeted by the best seats in the industry by a long shot. Covered in the coolest houndstooth upholstery, the seats are so damn cool and I adore the idea of splurging on the inside, where the luxury is for you and those closest to you to enjoy, not the outside world. I did hear from a few people that they think the Cayenne’s interior design is cold and its dashboard looks overly serious, and they aren’t wrong, but the houndstooth helps liven things up drastically.
The one dead giveaway of the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s true nature that betrays its otherwise low-key demeanour can be heard as soon as you crank the ignition to the left of the steering wheel. The roar when the 4.0L twin-turbo V8 comes to life is money and there might as well be $100 bills shooting from the carbon-fibre tailpipes. With 541 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque, the SUV is brutally fast, getting to 100 km/h in a stupid 3.6 seconds with the Sport Chrono package. That feature allows the driver to unlock 20 seconds of extra boost by pressing a button on the steering wheel, but in all honesty, the Cayenne Turbo is so blindingly quick without it, you probably don’t need it. It’s too easy to break the law as it is.
Of course, all-wheel drive is standard, as is Porsche’s flawless eight-speed automatic transmission. It all works together magically well. There’s nothing left to say except the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s powertrain is *chef’s kiss* perfection.
Driving Dynamics: 10/10
Stellar driving dynamics are the calling card of every Porsche and the Cayenne Turbo Coupe is no exception. In a straight line, the brutally quick acceleration slingshots you forward with all the might and ferocity of an angry deity, while the SUV hurtles you through winding roads with the precision, athleticism, and agility of a gold medal gymnast. Although the Cayenne is a large and heavy SUV, it drives smaller than it actually is thanks to the optional rear axle steering that sharpens how quickly it can change directions, making it feel more agile than its size and weight would suggest. It also makes it easier to park by reducing its turning radius, and at $1,840, it’s a reasonably priced must-have option. Combined with the $1,700 torque-vectoring system, the Cayenne moves in a way that might confuse physics professors.
The steering is heavy and incredibly precise at speed, but I would recommend turning off lane-keep assist if you’re planning on carving up some back roads because it can be unnerving to feel the Cayenne correcting your chosen line.
The brakes are also incredible – they’re sharp and responsive without being touchy and they feel progressive and natural, but best of all, they offer repeatedly strong stopping even after multiple hard stomps on the pedal.
This Cayenne Turbo Coupe is outfitted with the optional $4,090 Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system (an electronic roll stabilizer), which works with the adaptive air suspension and 48-volt mild hybrid system to enable the Cayenne to handle both leisurely commutes in comfort or angry driving equally well. No matter which of the five drive modes you’re in and what speed you’re driving, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe feels remarkably stable and composed. Driven with some speed, the SUV remains flat and claws itself out of corners with astonishing eagerness and grace.
I wouldn’t say the Cayenne Turbo Coupe has a “fun” personality; it’s a very serious performance vehicle and while it’s not playful in the same way as, say, a Mazda MX-5, it’s wildly capable and endlessly confident.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Porsche’s 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is slick, responds quickly, and has menus that make sense. The system is customizable and it’s easy to drag and drop tiles and icons to customize the layouts of different screens. Simple things like being able to tap once to cancel a route are much appreciated, but not having numbers and letters available on one keyboard screen while inputting an address can be annoying.
Porsche insists on using USB-C ports, which your existing bundle of charging cables likely won’t work with, but it’s nothing an adapter can’t fix. The brand only supports Apple CarPlay at the moment and not Android Auto; however, the Porsche Connect app is available on both smartphone platforms and allows drivers to connect their phones to the vehicle’s native infotainment services.
The head-up display shows a lot of useful information and users can customize what is shown, but the font used is small and squat, making it difficult to read at a glance while keeping your eyes on the road.
Practicality isn’t the most important aspect of any Porsche, but the Cayenne Coupe can hold 598 L of cargo in the trunk and 1,513 L with the rear seats folded down. Being a “coupe,” it sacrifices some of the conventional version’s 745 L / 1,678 L of cargo space, but the trunk is still plenty big enough for most people’s needs. The hatch doesn’t lift high enough so that taller people’s foreheads are kept safe, but the opening is wide and low, making it easy to load things into the trunk.
Inside, there aren’t a lot of cubbies to stash things, though it has a slot that can hold your phone and maybe your keys. The centre console housing is quite large and takes up a lot of space, so it would have been nice to have a few more places to stash things.
The Cayenne Coupe comes standard with room for four but can be configured with an optional 2+1 rear seating setup at no extra cost. When set up for four, the middle section is a cubby that perfectly fits a takeout container, a feature I used many times to stop my noodles from sliding around on my spirited drives home from the many takeout places I visited.
The Cayenne has very comfortable and supportive seats that keep fatigue at bay and also keep occupants from sliding around. Front-seat passengers are treated to generous head- and legroom, though those in the back have less space to sprawl out, especially if there are taller people in front. The suspension is compliant enough in regular mode that a bunch of glassware I was transporting barely rattled when driving over rougher patches of road.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to return 15.6 L/100 km city, 12.4 highway, and 14.1 combined (this rating is for the non-coupe version, as the coupe hasn’t been tested yet, but is mechanically identical). The fuel economy during my time with the Cayenne, which included numerous aggressive launches combined with a lot of highway driving, wasn’t far off from the official ratings. The 48-volt electrical system also enables smooth operation of the engine stop/start feature and allows the Cayenne to coast more efficiently. Of course, the Cayenne Turbo requires premium fuel.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested the Porsche Cayenne coupe or its non-coupe sibling, but the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) gave it a five-star rating. Cruise control is standard, but adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability is an optional extra. There’s also automatic emergency braking with collision preparation, night vision assist, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera, and more. None of this safety tech is particularly ground-breaking, but Porsche covers its bases well in terms of safety.
If value is important to you, I’m curious why you’re reading a review for a Porsche in the first place. With most of this brand’s models – the Cayenne Turbo Coupe included – your dollars are paying for two things mainly: impeccable driving dynamics and prestige. If that’s what you desire, then the price Porsche asks for this vehicle is more than worth every penny. If it’s technology and gimmicky features you value, you’ll have to pay extra or look elsewhere. A generous list of standard features is not something this German automaker is known for.
As tested, this 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe retails for $191,400 before taxes and delivery. Included in this price is $43,400 in options ranging from $520 for powered rear sunshades and $6,620 for a Burmester sound system, all the way up to $13,200 for a Lightweight Sport package that includes a carbon-fibre roof.
Normally, I expect a vehicle of this price to come with all the latest tech as standard, but Porsche charges extra for everything because it can. Features like wireless charging and ventilated seats are optional extras, but I’m trying to convince myself that these features won’t do much for weight savings, so it’s acceptable that they have been omitted. It would be counterproductive to pay more than $13,000 for a weight-saving option and then pay extra to add more weight into the car. I think it’s reasonable, however, to expect that the safety features come standard, but again, Porsche charges extra for many of them.
All the worthy features and upgrades are geared toward making the SUV drive well, so in this sense, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe has all the performance features you could want.
Porsche will still sell you a lime green 911 with a wing that’s a foot tall, but for those who want to experience your luxury motoring in a more discreet manner without having to sacrifice performance, you will probably appreciate the option to visually tone things down with a Cayenne Turbo Coupe like this.
|Engine Cylinders||Twin-turbo V8|
|Peak Horsepower||541 hp|
|Peak Torque||568 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||15.6/12.4/14.1 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||598/1,513 L seats down|
|Model Tested||2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe|
|Price as Tested||$193,000|
$43,400 – Chalk paint, $3,590; rear axle steering, $1,840; black Porsche badging, $340; Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, $4,090; power rear sunshades, $520; Porsche comfort access, $1,080; heated windshield, $560; LED matrix headlights and Porsche dynamic light system, $1,360; Burmester surround sound, $6,620; Porsche torque vectoring plus, $1,700; soft close doors, $880; ambient lighting, $500; assistance package (incl. surround view camera, head-up display, night view assist, adaptive cruise control), $7,120; lightweight sport package (incl. Alcantara heated multi-function steering wheel, carbon fibre roof, carbon fiber interior trim), $13,200